The Right Note: Another Surplus Won’t Be Returned to Taxpayers

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Mark KellyA Sun Gazette editorial this week joined me in calling for the inevitable tax revenue surpluses to be returned to taxpayers. As I have written more than once here, it appears as though County staff intentionally underestimates revenue every year in order to make the case for higher taxes.

At the end of the year, the Board then uses close out spending to increase spending outside of the annual budget process. They are on track to dole out tens of millions again this year while our average tax burden will rise with the rising assessments.

Yet, even with millions more to spend, it is unlikely that our Board will get the job done on basic infrastructure maintenance needs to prevent future pothole and water main break outbreaks. On the flip side, paying for another million dollar bus stop that will not keep you dry when it rains or snows is not out of the question.

Next week, you will have an opportunity to testify before the County Board on behalf of lower tax rates. A few hearty souls will most likely join you Thursday evening on your quixotic quest. Not only does the Board’s track record of raising taxes make it quixotic, but two days earlier, the Board will have heard from ten times as many people about how to spend even more of your hard-earned tax dollars.

In what you may not necessarily think of as a related story this week, I was reminded that the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is searching for a new president. We need a strong and vibrant business community in Arlington. Not only will it provide jobs for our residents, but it will maintain a strong commercial real estate tax base which ensures our residential tax rates do not skyrocket even higher.

The next Arlington Chamber president will need to step up the pressure on the County Board to make business formation and expansion easier in Arlington. These efforts are needed in order to make our community more attractive to job creators. Working with the County Board to make Arlington more business friendly will be a tough job for sure, but one that will benefit us all in the long run.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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